We are at an exciting time in history. The Digital Age has ushered in limitless opportunities to maintain relationships with people from throughout our lives (social networking), the freedom to express our thoughts and reflections about life and share with the world (blogging), become an expert on almost any topic at the speed of a keystroke (Google) and increase productivity, all the while sitting at home in front of our computer (online bill pay, education, etc.). Yes, we are engaging in a very exciting time in history.
As the drive to develop more sophisticated technologies increases, minorities find themselves relegated to the role of the consumer as opposed to participating in the creation of the next great technology. IMPACT STL seeks to address this concern as there are far reaching consequences for the exclusion of minorities in this growth field. Let’s take for example KeShawn, a 16-year-old African-American male from a destitute community in America. Here’s what we can safely assume: his access to resources are minimal, his family is most likely receiving government assistance, his life expectancy is not long due to gang/drug violence that plague these communities, his education is subpar and the only access he has to the latest technology is through his cell phone, mp3 player, etc.
Understanding that this is the reality of the predominance of youth we serve we focus on ameliorating those barriers that KeShawn faces. If he lacks the opportunity to work within the tech sector he positions himself to be disqualified from one of the fastest growing job sectors. When young people are unemployable, they find other illicit ways of earning money. Unfortunately this behavior perpetuates the very destitution he was reared in. The subculture of earning money illegally results in early death, crime-ridden communities, minimal economic investment by outside entities and low performing schools.
What does that mean to those who may not live or work within these communities? It means, you’re going to pay for KeShawn’s inability to find a career through higher taxes to support prisons and government programs. Whether we decide to collectively equalize the playing field and begin to equip and prepare the next generation of technopreuers or decide to continue to perpetuate the digital divide (between minority and non-minority youth) we will have to pay. We choose to pay now through time, experience, effort and financial commitments to ensure that minority youth are trained and supported in becoming the next great technology creators, as opposed to pay later for the consequences of turning a blind eye to their need.